What is it about vampires and other supernatural beings that drives the public, particularly women, wild? Is it that pasty skin or the ability to shape shift? Is it the promise of eternal life or the capability to read minds? Is it the dark, romantic idea that one can unite with someone or something from the other side?
Like its box office predecessors, Eclipse, the third installment of the Twilight Saga, was released on 30 June to record sales. In case you haven’t heard, the film is based on the bestseller by Stephanie Meyer. It’s about 18-year-old Bella Swan who caught in a love triangle between handsome vampire, Edward Cullen, and hunky shape-shifting werewolf, Jacob Black.
(Little, Brown; US: May 2010)
Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Kristen Stewart, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, Peter Facinelli, Sarah Clarke, Elizabeth Reaser, Anna Kendrick, Xavier Samuel, Bryce Dallas Howard, Michael Welch, Christian Serrattos
(Summit Entertainment; US theatrical: 30 Jun 2010)
When I saw the film, a gaggle of teenage girls behind me giggled, gasped and squealed their way through most of the film. Each time their hysteria erupted, it happened during a romantic scene. One, in particular, that really got the girls going was when Bella asks Edward to “change” her, meaning to give her eternal life. She’s worried that her 19th birthday is approaching and she’ll physically be older than Edward, who has been stuck at 18-years-old for the last 107 years.
In return for his gift of eternal life, he asks that she marry him, something down-to-earth tomboy, Bella, scoffs at. But Edward harkens back to a more innocent and simple time when men courted women:
“I’m from a different era, things were a lot less complicated and if I had met you back then, I would’ve courted you. I would’ve taken you to chaperoned strolls, ice tea on the porch. I may have stolen a kiss or two, but only after asking your father’s permission, I would’ve got down on knee.”
You could hear the girls gasping between suspended soda sips and choking on popcorn. Understandably so. With Meyer’s Twilight Saga you get a lot of old-fashioned courting in a world of wham, bam, thank you, Ma’am. Another trait that’s so appealing about her books is that the tease here isn’t the woman, but the man.
Another character sneering at this marriage business is Jacob, the werewolf who has been in love with Bella since Twilight. Not only does he not want her to marry another man, but he doesn’t want her to become a “bloodsucker”. The tension between the three of them leads to another scene that stirred the theater pot in which we find all three characters stuck in a tent on a snow covered-mountain. While Bella tries to sleep in the biting cold, her vampiric lover can only watch her chatter away until hot, hunky Jacob comes into the tent to warm her up.
The possibilities are endless and I’m sure a scene like this wasn’t lost on the porn industry, which has cashed in on the Twilight series with titles like This Isn’t Twilight and This Isn’t the Twilight Saga: New Moon .
Meyer’s piquant material wasn’t lost on Eclipse director David Slade, either. Case in point: When Jacob puts his arms around a freezing Bella, he looks at Edwards and says, “Let’s face it. I’m hotter than you.”
Many critics have called Eclipse the best of the Twilight series movies so far. This may be because it not only appeals to the ladies for its heavy-handed romantic thrills, but also to the guys for the electrifying action scenes.
In this installment, an army of “newborn” vampires is formed by the flame-haired vampire, Victoria, who is still pissed off at Edward for killing her lover, James. The battle scenes between the newborns and existing vampires are thrilling, but now that the werewolves are joining the Cullen clan to defend Bella, there are not only vampires fighting, but giant werewolves, too!
Pattinson is still fantastic as Edward – charismatic, ethereal, and handsome; and Lautner continues to grow up before our eyes into an even more seasoned Jacob. Stewart, as well as the rest of the cast, has staying power in her role as girl-next-door, Bella. Billy Burke is particularly good as Charlie—Bella’s grumbling, but loving father.
The only cast change in this installment is that of Victoria, who was played by Rachelle Lefevre in New Moon and is now played by Bryce Dallas Howard. The switch of actors is disappointing. Lefevre was the embodiment of the fiery villain whereas Howard comes across, not only as too sweet, but flat in comparison to her salty counterpart. Let’s just say Howard doesn’t have the same “bite” that Lefevre had.
Perhaps it isn’t the vampires or werewolves that make Meyer’s series so loved. Her romance flies in the face of more pragmatic love stories (think Lost in Translation or any Woody Allen film) that convey there is no single “right person” out there for each of us, and that love is a fickle thing. While this may be true, Meyer’s story celebrates the conceits of simplicity, chastity, and the hope of finding “the one”. It suggests that it’s okay to dream about finding true love, and it’s old fashioned in a way that is clearly popular with the reading and movie-going public—especially the teenage girls.